What's on My Food?

Find out what's on your food at: whatsonmyfood.org

Monday, September 28, 2009

Persistance Pays Off

It pays to be diligent. Recently, I visited my brother Bill in Bothell, WA. Before leaving I was introduced to TJ Max by my SIL. What a store! Well, I found a hard-side suitcase in bright red that was labled  24."
Sweet. I could buy more stuff to bring home. At the airport, the curbside check-in attendant immediately said, "That bag is too big." I reminded him that I just bought it and the tag said 24." So, he suggested I follow him inside the terminal and we will try it out. Well, sure enough...they guy put my suitcase in the template case and it would not go in. No problem. I paid the $15 and was on my way back to Texas.

Well, something just bothered me about that circumstance. The tag said 24" so it should have fit. I paid an added fee because the tag was wrong. So, by the time I reached Texas, I had a plan. I would take the suitcase back for a refund but in addition, I would get a gift card for $15 that would reimburse my baggage charge. Easier said than done.

I had no problem getting my refund for the suitcase. Luckily, I had saved the tag with 24" clearly marked on it. But when I asked for the $15 gift card (I also had the receipt from Alaska Airlines) the salesperson backed away, put her hands to her chest, and said, "That's not my job. I cannot do that." So, I asked for the manager. Not in. OK, what is his number. Then the assistant manager came out. I explained the whole scenerio to her. Hands to chest, backed up, got wide-eyed and said, "I am not authorized to do that. Let me give you the manager's name. Rob." OK, so I call Rob and never reach him. So, I am given the district manager's phone number, Mr. Santos.

So, I call Mr. Santos, the district wide manager....many times. Never in. However, I told the story again to Pam who is an assistant manager at the Bandera TJ Max off of 1604. She said she would convey my story to Mr. Santos and call Rob at The Forum. Days go by. I call Pam again and she has not heard from district manager nor Rob. She suggested I call Rob at TJ Max again and explain it to him. Wait...isn't Mr. Santos Rob's boss? Doesn't he have more authority than Rob? It made sense to me.

Apparantly, it made sense to Pam too. She said she will issue the $15 gift card at her Bandera TJ Max. I just have to go pick it up. Hey, guess at which store I will be spending my money? Pam has class.
Thanks Pam and Thanks TJ Max!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Comal County Fair

Today was fair day. There is something really special about living in a small town. New Braunfels has about 50,000 including county and it is considered small. The county fair is really special. It is a time when families are out together, enjoying the competition with their animals and riding the ferris wheel. Our fair is about 50 years old. It has become a family tradition to enter your prized animal in competion. We have a large FFA and 4-H population. I wish I could have captured the look of pride on young handlers in the ring with their goat. It was really inspiring. On the other hand, the look on their face when they were eliminated was humbling. Learn more about Comal County Fair here: http://www.comalcountyfair.org/

Did I mention the Asian food prepared yesterday? I cannot name it Korean, Chinese nor Taiwanese because I used a combination of all those things. It all started with Bok Choy being on sale at the grocery. Well, then I saw the snow peas and fresh green beans....I already had rice noodles. So, before leaving the store, I picked up thin cuts of pork loin.

Advice when cooking Asian: have all your veggies cut about the same size and have them ready before heating up the wok. Use clean oil...meaning fresh. I use canola oil but any clear oil will do. Do not use lard or Crisco for stir fry. Just use enough to oil the wok. Swirl it around a bit and heat it to almost smoking. Put the meat in first and stir and turn until done. Remove from the wok. Then place whatever veggies will take the longest to cook. For me that was carrots, onions, green onions and snow peas. Keep the heat high. When those are almost tender put in the bok choy and I also put in some mung bean sprouts. Now, here is the good part. I put in one tablespoon chile garlic sauce. http://www.huyfong.com/ That adds a nice kick. Final addition are the rice noodles which have soaked in hot water and drained. I then added a bit of seseme oil and some sherry. I brought it back up to sizzling, covered for about 2 minutes and done!Well, this dish gave us 3 meals! I love leftovers! This meal was low in fat but high in protein. Next time, I will add tofu instead of pork and see how that goes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Master Gardeners had a float in today's fair parade. Isn't it cute?
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Comal County Fair--Big Parade

Today is opening day of our fair. Lots of excitement starting with the parade.
I will post later with some pictures.
Off to the parade!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time to Plant Fall Gardens

Comal Master Gardeners, Donna and Mike Welch presented a program on fall gardening. It was geared to the novice but this crusty gardener learned a lot. We are zoned between 8 and 9 so our planting dates differ from Austin and San Antonio. We were reminded of proper soil preparation. In the Texas Hill Country, we can have clay soil, sandy soil, caliche or no soil. Most of us have no soil...just lots of rocks. Raised garden beds are the sure fire way to have a successful crop. They can be made from cement blocks, landscape timbers or planks of wood. It is not advisable to use railroad ties for these are treated. The jury is still out on whether one should use treated lumber. Remember to build your raised bed about 4' by 8.' If you make the bed wider than 4 feet, you will not be able to reach across the other side.

To determine what kind of soil you have (if you choose not to have a raised bed) contact your local County Extension Office. Most likely, you have soil high in ph or too low. That is why raised beds are ideal. Your soil should be a combination of good, organic soil, compost and fertilizer. Some gardeners plant in just compost. Their gardens are beautiful! Your soil should be fine. No clumps. It should smell rich, not sour. You should be able to run your fingers though it without it sticking to your hands. If it clumps you need to rake more and take out rocks. If it clings to your hands you need a bit more compost.

Next, make a list of vegetables you like. There is no sense in planting something you are not going to eat, unless you plan on donating it to your local food bank. Wait! There is a hummer right outside my window! I will report this to migration watch so they can keep track of migration patterns. OK, where was I? Right...make a list of the veggies you like. Go to your handy-dandy chart provided by the Extension Office to see what date these are to be planted. Here is the important part: check how many days to harvest. If your choice takes 80 days to harvest you must count backwards to the suggested planting date. This is how you determine when to plant certain plants. It freezes here, so veggies that have 40-60 days to harvest may be ok for me. But anything over that will freeze or not produce because it will be too cold or will be lacking in sun light.

When you have decided what works for you, draw a plan and label where your veggies will be planted. Also, write the date down that you planted them. You will refer to this next year so you do not plant the same plant in the same spot. Never plant tomatoes in the same place year after year. You will have a dissappointing crop.

Here is a good site for those of you in the Texas Hill Country.


Other good sources are: www.thepeppergal.com

Don't forget to plant companion plants that bloom. Not only are they pretty but they will help pollinate your veggies.

There is lots more information I can share with you. If you have any questions, just e-mail me and I will find the answer or refer you to a good site that can give you the answer.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Day of Fall

Today is the first day of fall. Nothing could be better. To celebrate, I spent a great day at the San Antonio River Walk, new extension. It starts at the old restored Pearl Brewery and extends over one mile past the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) and near the Wittie Museum. What an improvement. The plants and flowers are mostly Texas Natives and the art adorning the entire area is innovative and stimulating. One is pictured. These giant fish extend from cables under the freeway and light up at night. Next time I will go at night for there is even a stretch of the pavement that lights up at night.

If you are in the San Antonio area, don't miss this new extension to the famous River Walk.
There are several good restaurants at the Pearl Brewery including Farm to Table. Everything is made fresh, mostly organic and comes from local farmers. The desserts are AWESOME.

One other thing...the electric-run river taxi takes you through a lock. It is like a miniature Panama Canal. You can use your river taxi ticket for 24 hours.

Great day!
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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Great rain day...time for soup

We got about 1" of rain today. It started around 2 am and continued through the morning. I took my daily walk in a nice soft rain. It was heaven. Everything is green and cool.

So, when I got home I made a grocery list for vegetable beef soup. Usually I leave the beef out but a neighbor is recovering from an illness and needs some beef. I throw in new potatoes, organic carrots, green beans, parsley, onions, celery (use the hearts and leaves...so much flavor). Put a can of black beans or pinto beans (drained and rinsed). Put all this into organic vegetable broth or beef broth. I had leftover rice from the night before so that went in too. Open a can of crushed tomatoes or better yet, use fresh. I thru in some oregano, salt and pepper. Oh, about a cup of red wine really tops it off...put it in the soup! Then have one with dinner. It was great!

Monday, September 21, 2009

learning to cook

I remember putting my husband through college. He was working on his Ph.D and we were very poor.
We brought in $350 a month. That paid rent, gas, and food. I had to be creative. You cannot believe all the different ways to cook beans and rice! It helped that I was a vegetarian but at the end of the month those beans and rice dishes were getting old. So, I learned how to create recipes out of practically nothing. Basically, if you have beans, rice, an egg, celery, black olives, chiles, onion, frozen or fresh green beans or any other vegetable leftover, you can create a terrific casserole or omelet. Keep canned or fresh (best) beans on hand along with long grain or brown rice. If you have some basic leftovers or veggies, try  creating something. You will be pleasantly suprised. Add a bit of bread and a nice glass of Reisling and there you have it!